SophSoft Relaunch

SophSoft, Incorporated jumps back into the fray.

SophSoft, Incorporated - custom game developmentAfter a respectful (and necessary) period of readjustment, while SophSoft, Incorporated and Digital Gamecraft™ added a second office on the west coast, we are making our public reappearance.

It has, admittedly, been a while since I have made any concerted effort to market our development services or published games, or to comment on industry events.  Instead, I have retrenched to focus on our core concerns: key clients, business organization, and (of course) financial stability.  Having made significant progress on all fronts, it was time for us to again perform those functions that go beyond simple maintenance to actually growing the company.  To that end, I am not only committing time to this effort but getting more assistance in areas that I can efficiently delegate.

Here is a quick roundup of the news (past and upcoming):

SophSoft, Incorporated

Over the past year, we have continued our previous development work, most notably for Goodsol Development, with whom we have been working for 15 years (later this month); there have been several releases in that time, and many more are still scheduled to be shipped (for Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS) during the rest of 2016.

We have added to our collection of mobile devices (iOS, Android, and Windows) for development and testing, as we have continued to improve our knowledge and experience on all three platforms.  (I can neither confirm nor deny reports that Apple Watch, Android Wear, Apple TV, and Android TV are included in our forthcoming lineup.)

As a departure from games, development is underway on a new line of productivity tools that aim not only to enhance our bottom line, but also (actually, primarily) to significantly increase our internal efficiency and organization.

Digital Gamecraft

We have continued to support (albeit not promote) Demolish! Pairs for iOS, while we have been making progress on an Android edition.  This progress on a new platform for Demolish! Pairs has gone from fitful to steady, and it is now increasing in velocity.  We have some new marketing prepared, including an online playable version (in HTML5).  Expect new features and new platform announcements fairly soon.

In addition to that title, our next game is already under development.  This one will be the first of our “Gamecraft Classics™” series of classic board and card games, and it represents an early step along our roadmap of upcoming titles in five major genres, as well as a few experimental (‘one off’) titles.  All of these games feed into our SophPlay™ System for robust game development, strengthening its foundation.

Finally, plans are in place for renewing and enhancing our presence on social media, expanding from Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ into more places for community.  Follow us via these links now and experience the resurgence as it happens.

Still More…

As noted, we now have offices in both East Lansing, MI and Los Angeles, CA, and it has been a chore getting our infrastructure working (together) in both places.  Now that we have stability, we are enhancing our capabilities with new, faster servers.  Although the switch-over and retirement of older hardware is still in progress, users should experience more responsiveness and better reliability (if not now, then within a couple of weeks).

As ‘no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy‘ (in this case, the challenges of limited resources and product discoverability, primarily), there is no doubt that our goals are ambitious and our priorities will change.  However, as an entrepreneur, I find that merely maintaining the status quo is more stressful than risking failure.

IGDA Detroit: September Meeting!

IGDA Detroit returns to East Lansing on Thursday.

September SocialFor the first time in a few years, IGDA Detroit, the Michigan chapter of the International Game Developers Association, will be having its monthly meeting in East Lansing (our home town). The September meeting will be this Thursday [September 22].

This month’s meeting details:

Thursday, September 22, 2011
7:00pm to 9:30pm [or later]
East Lansing Technology Innovation Center (TIC)
325 E. Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, MI 48823
[click here for map/directions]

Note that the TIC is immediately above the Barnes and Noble, and there is direct access from the second level of the parking garage in back, as well as access to the elevators from street level off Grand River (M-43).

Unlike last month’s (social) gathering, this IGDA Detroit meeting has an agenda including short presentations on the current state of Michigan Tax Incentives, the outcome of a meeting with the Oakland County Film Board, and a survey of the groundbreaking educational opportunities in games at Michigan State University.  Additionally, our friends at Adventure Club Games will be discussing the upcoming “GDC Road Trip“; we got a taste of the plans at the last meeting, but we are very excited to see how we may be able to participate in something that has never been attempted before (to my knowledge).  I would describe the basics here, but it is not my cat to let out of the bag, so you will just need to come hear for yourself, and maybe even start preparing to take part.

After the main meeting, of course, there will be an opportunity for networking at any number of bars within easy walking distance of the TIC.  Digital Gamecraft may even pick up the first round…

IGDA Detroit: August Meeting

An IGDA Detroit social gathering will be on Monday.

April SocialIGDA Detroit, the Michigan chapter of the International Game Developers Association, will be having its August meeting on Monday [August 22].  Every other chapter meeting (even months) is a social event, or “pure networking” if you prefer, at an area establishment.

This month’s meeting details:

Monday, August 22, 2011
6:30pm to 9:30pm [or later]
Dick O’Dow’s
160 West Maple Road
Birmingham, MI 48009
[click here for map/directions]

 

For the first time in memory, this IGDA Detroit meeting is on a Monday (which, thankfully, means that I have no time conflicts, as I have for the last few meetings).  I look forward to seeing a good turnout.  Find me or Sherry and mention this blog entry and Digital Gamecraft will buy you a drink.  As always, one can also follow IGDA Detroit on Facebook.

IGDA Detroit: April Meeting

An IGDA Detroit gathering is scheduled for Thursday.

April SocialIGDA Detroit, the Michigan chapter of the International Game Developers Association, will be having its April meeting tomorrow.  As per the recently established custom, every other chapter meeting (even months) is a social event, or “pure networking” if you prefer, at an area establishment.

This month’s meeting details:

Thursday, April 21, 2011
7:30pm to 10:30pm [editor: or so]
Lucky Strike at Twelve Mile Crossings
44325 W. Twelve Mile Road
Novi, Michigan 48377
[click here for map/directions]

 

Attendance has been on the rise for every IGDA Detroit meeting so far in 2011, and I hope for that trend to continue.  The newly elected Board of Directors is introducing door prizes for such things as traveling distance (to the meeting) and new members, so it could pay off in more ways than just the camaraderie, business contacts, and practical game development information.  Come join us!

To keep apprised of the happenings, you can follow IGDA Detroit on Facebook, too.

One topic of conversation is certainly going to be the IGDA stance against Amazon’s new Appstore Distribution Terms (and, specifically, how said terms are potentially very detrimental to game developers).  More about that soon…

Welcome to 2011!

Happy New Year!

Even though the New Year is ultimately an arbitrary construct, it is nevertheless customary to take the opportunity to reflect on the past year and plan for the next one.  More practically, of course, there are certain business related items (especially concerning taxes) that need to be handled in a certain calendar year, so getting those tasks completed before the end of the year is important.

In our case, we officially take two weeks off around the holidays, especially since very little work tends to get done anyway, other businesses are often running with skeleton crews (or closed entirely), and most of us would rather focus on family during this time, anyway.  However, we still have things to get completed by year end, so leading up to the break, we have a major project meeting (before two weeks without any) and determine which items have to be finished before the break, or during it in the worst case.  Last year (i.e., a couple weeks ago) we were able to determine that certain “capital improvements” were better deferred until 2011, so this year will begin with some disruptions targeted toward better efficiency in the near future.

For my personal task management, I added to the list all of my recurring items (some of which include general categories, such as ‘development’ or ‘marketing’) and methodically eliminated each item by assuring that everything necessary was finished before taking my break.  Alas, one particular (and important) item on my task list actually became two separate items with 2010 deadlines, so my break only encompassed hours, rather than days, of last year.

As the new year begins, on this first business day, I repeated the same process of starting my task list with all of my recurring items (plus deferred tasks), except this time I review each one to make certain that the foundational aspects are handled and to consider any procedural changes for the upcoming year (including delegating or completely eliminating a task).  I am still officially on a break for another week, so I am (personally) using that time to prepare my work environment physically, organizationally, and mentally, for substantially increased development efficiency when I return.

Of course, these are just the tasks that are performed to pursue our ultimate goals.  We also have planned and established a set of goals for 2011, which these tasks are designed to serve, but that will be the subject of my next post.

The ASP becomes the ASP

The ASP is renamed to the Association of Software Professionals.

After 23 years of leadership in (what was known as) the shareware industry, and now following the current trend, the ASP has dropped “Shareware” and officially changed its name to the Association of Software Professionals.

The change has been in the works for a while, but it was officially announced on the ASP blog in an article entitled, Shareware is dead – long live shareware!

A press release about the change can be found on Newswire Today, and proper coverage of the name change was recently published by Dr. Dobbs Editor, Jon Erickson, in a blog posting, Shareware: Thanks for the Memories.

When the ASP was formed back in 1987, it was out to promote the concept of “shareware”, a marketing method (n.b., not a type of software) where a user was able to try software before making a purchase (or not), and also to help independent developers/publishers learn how to use shareware (and other methods) to become successful.

The former goal was achieved long ago, as almost all mass market software now has a trial version available.  (See my Mission Accomplished! posting from a couple of years ago.)  The only skirmish remaining was that over the word “shareware” itself, but the ASP has now de facto ceded that control (for the sake of lasting peace, I suppose).  One only need look at this thread at The Business of Software to observe the rampant ignorance even among (nominal) developers, so I can certainly understand declaring that a losing cause.

The latter goal is actually an ongoing mission, and the ASP (regardless of the name change) remains the single greatest resource for independent software developers and publishers.  At only $100 per year, it is quite possibly the best money we have ever spent for our business.

10 Years!

One whole decade in the ASP.

On this date back in 1999, I joined the ASP (Association of Shareware Professionals), so this is the 10th anniversary of my membership in this important trade organization.  (As a side note, through some game playing, it is also the 5th anniversary of the second company membership for Sherry.)  I was the last member to join in the 1900s, having taken almost ten years to join in the first place, and I immediately regretted not joining earlier.

In the past 10 years, I spent nearly half of that time in a volunteer position, mostly the 4.5 years during which I was a Director, including two stints as ASP Chairman of the Board.  I do not currently hold any official job, concentrating on developing our company and products, but I still strongly believe in the value of membership for access to the private newsgroups alone, nevermind other benefits.  In fact, I am now a Lifetime Member to be sure to always have this wealth of information and experience available to me.  (Anybody who fails to join just because of the “shareware” word in the organization name is making a very poor business decision.)

Clearly, one of the biggest benefits of ASP membership to me was to network with successful shareware publishers, which led directly to our association with Goodsol Development, which involvement has now lasted more than 8 years and could easily have paid for annual ASP membership dues into the next millennium.  That is only one contact I have made, but I have both learned and profited from many of the other members of the ASP.  Join Now!

Speaking of Goodsol, in wrapping up the year, I had a chance to review the products we shipped during 2009:

That is not too bad a list for year, but I bet that we can beat that in 2010!  (We already have three products on the publishing schedule, and 5 more big projects in the immediate pipeline.)

[Note to self:  Press the ‘Publish’ button when the article is finished and proofread.]

Jason Della Rocca steps down

The Executive Director of the IGDA resigns.

This week, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) announced that Jason Della Rocca, its long time Executive Director, will be stepping down effective March 31. This will be just after the conclusion of the 2009 Game Developers Conference (GDC) this year.

Under Jason’s leadership over eight and a half years, the IGDA has grown massively (2900%), from 500 to 15000 members. More importantly, and understandably omitted from the press release, he took the organization from a fairly directionless group of early game developers (of which I was one) to an association that actually has significant relevance within the game industry.

You can read about Jason’s reasons for departing in this post on his personal blog. (There are lots of comments there, too, as well as at this Gamasutra article.)

I had the opportunity to work with Jason Della Rocca back in 2005 when the State of Michigan proposed legislation restricting game sales in the state, and I testified before a Senate committee, on behalf of the Detroit IGDA chapter. I saw Jason’s passion first hand, and his (and the organization’s) guidance and assistance was especially helpful. (Nevertheless, the legislation passed anyway, but then it was ruled unconstitutional, as expected, and ultimately cost Michigan an extra $182349 in restitution for industry legal fees. They should have listened to us.)

Good luck in your new endeavors, Jason!

Global Game Jam Detroit

Local developers participate in this international game event tomorrow.

At 5:00pm tomorrow [Friday, January 30, 2009], the Global Game Jam begins. It will last 48 hours, ending at the same time on Sunday (all times local). Since the event is worldwide, it covers many different time zones, and the first jams, in New Zealand, will begin in just over half a day from now.

The IGDA Detroit is providing/sponsoring one location for the Global Game Jam. Dozens of developers will converge on TechTown in Detroit to participate. These will be some of the more than 1750 people who will take part at one of 53 locations in 23 countries around the world.

There is still room available at Global Game Jam Detroit 2009, and it is open to everyone. The cost to participate is only $25 (to defray food costs); click the link for details.

What is a Game Jam?
In a Game Jam, participants come together to make video games. Each participant works in a small team on a complete game project over the course of a limited time period, usually over a weekend. With such a small time frame, the games tend to be innovative and experimental. The Global Game Jam (GGJ) is the first of its kind: a game Jam that takes place in the same 48 hours all over the world! The global Game Jam will start at 5:00PM Friday, January 30, 2009 through 5:00PM Sunday, February 1, 2009, (all times local). All participants in the Global Game Jam will be constrained by the same rules and limitations, with each time zone having one distinct constraint.

In addition to the start of the GGJ, there will be a chapter meeting for IGDA Detroit from 5:00pm to 8:00pm (also at TechTown, 440 Burroughs St., Detroit). Even if you are not planning to participate in the game jam, come hang out a while (for free) with other game developers. I plan to be there; how about you?